House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) formally blocked the reappointment of Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (Calif.) to the House Intelligence Committee.
In a letter to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y), McCarthy said he appreciated the “loyalty” Jeffries showed to the two lawmakers but, he could not put “partisan loyalty ahead of national security.”
“In order to maintain a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities, I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee,” McCarthy added.
Since the Intelligence panel is a select committee, McCarthy has the power to unilaterally deny any member a place on the committee.
McCarthy had pledged to remove Schiff and Swalwell from the Intelligence committee as payback for when Democrats stripped GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) of their committee assignments for advocating violence against their Democratic colleagues.
But, McCarthy told reporters early on Tuesday that the move has nothing to do with partisan politics.
“This is not anything political. This is not similar to what the Democrats did,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy has criticized Schiff’s actions as chairman of the Intelligence committee during Donald Trump’s first impeachment for withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Joe Biden. McCarthy claims Schiff used his position to “lie to the American public again and again.”
For Swalwell, Republicans pointed to his ties to a suspected Chinese spy name Christine Fang, who had helped fundraise for his 2014 reelection bid. Axios broke the story in 2020. Since then Republicans have baselessly claimed Swalwell provided Fang with access to classified information.
U.S. officials do not believe Fang received or passed on classified information, Axios reported.
“His objection seems to be that I was the lead impeachment manager in Donald Trump’s first impeachment and that we held him accountable for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid from Ukraine in order to try to extort that country into helping his political campaign,” Schiff told reporters Tuesday. “I think it’s just another body blow to the institution of Congress, that he’s behaving this way, but it shows just how weak he is as a Speaker that he has to give in to the most extreme elements of his conference, in this case the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Paul Gosars.”
McCarthy also pledged to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs committee but that would require a vote of the full House of representatives and two Republicans already said they will oppose the move. McCarthy can only lose four.
“It’s disappointing but not surprising that Kevin McCarthy has capitulated to the right wing of his caucus, undermining the integrity of the Congress, and harming our national security in the process,” Schiff, Swalwell and Omar said in a joint statement. “He struck a corrupt bargain in his desperate, and nearly failed, attempt to win the Speakership, a bargain that required political vengeance against the three of us.”